Stupid “Rules”

I will read a book on anything if I think there is something to learn. And since I have been a dating disaster since day one, I even picked up a copy of The Rules back in ’95 when it was all the rage and I was in college. I flipped through, cringed, and promptly tossed the thing out (which I consider book sacrilege). I was NOT going to play hard to get, I would play the game as an even match and that would be the way to find someone who was my even match. Right?

The more I think about it, though, I’m starting to realize the ex and I never dated. Sure, we had a few dinners, went to a movie here and there. But we never dated. I was never “wooed” as my grandmother would say. And honestly, I never played very hard to get. I mean, he was the best looking guy who had ever paid attention to me. And well-liked by a large group of people. Even BC said he was smart- which is saying something. What better sort of vetting process did I need?

When we started hanging out, we had a full month with nothing on my calendar to do it in. I had just wrapped up law school and wouldn’t start my job until fall. Thanks to a moving-out incentive from my old landlord who wanted to condo-ize the building, I had some cash in my pocket. And he was bartending wild hours that meant the rest of the day was all ours. We lounged in the park talking until five a.m. We took his mom’s dog on walks. Went swimming at a friend’s house. Danced and drank and ordered Chinese to eat in bed with a pile of DVDs.

But sometimes, I wonder. I wonder if I should have tried to be more of a princess. The kind of girl who had to be “caught”. Not so much in a woe-is-me, this-is-my-fault way. More in a looking-toward-my-future way. If I hadn’t been so eager to be the “giver” in the relationship, maybe I would have gotten more back.

This is what “rules” do. Make you assume that if you weren’t playing along, it’s your fault you lost the game.

Then again, in better moments, I assume you can’t win the game. Not when the other player cheats.



Filed under Relationships, Soul Searching

13 responses to “Stupid “Rules”

  1. interesting to see, thanks

  2. Snoop Diggity-DANG-Dawg

    “ can’t win the game. Not when the other player cheats.”

    He may never have ‘played along’ at all, and found himself on the un-boyfriend ashheap of history.

  3. I don’t think its so much about playing hard to get… in my experience no matter how head over heels I am with someone I always try to keep a part of my own life seperate from them. For example, I always have atleast one dinner a week with my girlfriends and don’t talk/see my boyfriend that evening. It may be the pessimist in me — but until I’ve walked down the isle I’m going to play the “what if he’s not here tomorrow” game. I better have a life outside of him in order to fill the void.

  4. My wife and I really never dated. We met for a week and I returned overseas for a few months and we were married when I returned.

    We exchanged phone calls and actual letters (not emails), but we really didn’t have a “courtship” . We are working on our 14th year.

  5. Nancy in CT

    Please don’t play this game with yourself. There will never be an answer to questions such as, “what if I were I were better/funnier/smarter/prettier/taller/had bigger boobs/did more/did less/”. None of this is your fault, nothing you did could have made him cheat – it was all him. He’s the rat bastard. Believe me, I’ve been thru it – once a cheater, always a cheater. Rat bastards.

  6. Seven or so years ago, a friend of mine bought themselves a fancy new oven – this particular oven had the ability (although I’ve never been able to puzzle out why, exactly) to be set to temperature in increments of one degree. Brilliant, said they: we can set the thing to precisely 451 degrees, toss in a book, and see if Bradbury was right.

    That was the book that they used.

    Eleanor: Goob, that may be the absolute best story I have heard all month.

  7. letigreinfrance

    Nah I don’t think so.

    Christophe and I never really dated either. We met on one day, had a drink and a long talk (there was also another guy there), he gave me his number, I rang him, he came to Paris, then I went back with him to Metz and we stayed together for my last four days till I had to go home. But we did have many months before we met again to get to know each over through phone calls and emails.

    I think your sub conscience is again trying to switch the blame onto you and please fight against this! No matter how you would have acted the outcome would have been the same….:(

  8. I think the hardest part of wrapping my brain around all this is that (at 31), I have never (that I know of) been cheated on. I’ve always dated people who either called it off (or I did) when we knew it wasn’t working or before things happened with someone else. The way it should be done.

    My co-worker keeps telling me it’s a reflection of his character, not my quality. I need to make that my mantra.

  9. It *is* a reflection of his character and not your quality. I am learning this for myself, the hard way.

    When J and I got together, he talked about his ex-wife in such an intelligent and removed way that I thought they must have had some serious issues for him to have let go of all sympathy and empathy for her. Little did I know that I’d be on the receiving end of it just a few years later. Was there something wrong with her? No. Is there something wrong with me? No. She and I just got to be links in the long chain of his pattern. And it sucks, and I wonder if it is really my fault, but when I think about how similar his situation with his ex was to my situation now, I know this isn’t about me at all.

    You did nothing wrong. He could have called the wedding off, or talked to you about how he was feeling, instead of cheating on you- that would have been what a real man would have done, even though it would have been very hard.

  10. I think your courtship sounds lovely the way it was. I don’t think that the way you played the game, so to speak, would have changed the eventual outcome. And above all, do not blame yourself for his assholery.

  11. Thanks again for commenting on my blog and sharing that story. I really appreciate it.

    Eleanor: No, thank you, Ms. Klein. Seriously. You’re one of the greats. And the kind of woman I would drink with any time.

  12. Janine Falcon

    I’m glad you’re having better moments. Keep having those — they’re the best revenge. You’ll move forward. He’s doomed — ain’t no personal growth there, other than fungus.

  13. I think the Rules weed out the obvious players and time-wasters, but a man who lies and cheats makes all that testing and playing hard to get irrelevant. The Rules can’t change a person’s nature permanently. Cheat/lie once, that’s an event…cheat/lie twice, that’s a pattern.

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